FI5206: Technology for a Good Society
This compendium attempts to capture the essense of the core concepts included in this course. It is written by fellow students like yourself, so be aware of errors and misconceptions in the text.
Anyone is allowed to edit, remove and add material in this compendium, so feel free to contribute in any way you can.
Crow and Sarewitz: Remaking the world
This paper introduces a core theme in the course: Engineering is a moral activity because technology remake or transforms the world we live in in unpredictable ways.
The first interesting to take away form this paper is that:
"Technological innovation sustains a fundamental tension of civilization -- the tension between humanity's quest for more control over nature and the future, and our equally strong desire for stability and predictability in the present."
Not all parts of society may wish to implement new technology in a certain area. Some people are content with the way things are and don't want things to change. There are two forces affecting progress, one that accelerate technological progress and one that slows it down.
The second interesting thing to take away from this paper is that:
"A single technological innovation can remake the world"
There are countless examples in history where a small innovation can create an avelanche effect whichchanges society as a whole. While technological innovations can improve society in many ways, it can also create less desireable sideeffects. When implementing new innovations it is important to concider how to deal with the negative consequences and not only focus on the positive ones. Technological innovations can cause instability, chaos and uncertainty, which we as a society should be prepared to deal with.
Kline: Using history and sociology to teach engineering ethics
This paper provides an introduction to the field of technology ethics as it will be understood in this course.
What is Engineering Ethics?
- Engineering ethics
- An area of inquiry that studies behavioral practices in engineering, what they have been in the past. what they are now, and what they should be.
It's not necessarily about what is right and what is wrong, but about providing methods used to analyse such topics.
"Engineers shall hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the public in the performance of their profession duties"
There have been several cases were careless enginners have implemented dangerous innovations,today the safety of society is extremely important and emphasised.
Major Issues in Engineering ehtics
Public Safety and welfare. What is the responsibility of the engineer toward public safety and welfare? How safe must a safe design be?
Risk and the principle of informed consent. Should engineers assess risk from the point of view of technical experts, the public, or from some other perspective? Should engineers strive for the ideal of informed concent with users of a technology?
Conflict of interest. What is a conflict of interest and what is wrong with it?
Whistleblowing. Should engineers be expected to "blow the whistle" on their employer if there is wrong doing or a design is unsafe? What if lives are at stake?
Trade Secrets. Should engineers be expected to keep trade secrets, which are legal in the United States, when moving form on job to another if that might prevent them from using their technical expertise to make a living?
Accepting Gifts. What guidelines should engineers follow in accepting gifts from sales representatives and governments?